Replenish a Springtime Pantry
Spring beckons us with new beginnings and new life. Winter foods help us stay warm and full in the cold and dry season, but they are high in fat and heavy in protein, and can be taxing on the body to metabolize.
The foods in a spring harvest are natural cleansers, they help us release excess weight, rebuild our cells, and purify our liver.
There are many foods to enjoy in the Spring. As a general guideline, it is time to move away from the heavier foods of winter. Reduce the amounts of red meat, heavy dairy, high sugar foods, and root vegetables. Begin to bring lighter foods into your diet; emphasize grains and beans, sprouts, salads and cruciferous vegetables.
Here are 13 foods that would be great to start rotating into your diet as we transition into Spring.
I’ve organized them according to meal ideas that incorporate them, to give you some ideas and inspiration!
- Lemons, limes and grapefruits are perfect for Spring. Try to squeeze a lemon or lime on your salads, stir-fries, or in your soups. Rotate grapefruit in with your breakfast.
- Crispy Asparagus Broil My favorite way to prepare asparagus is to quickly blanch the stalks in boiling water for about 2 min. Then I line the stalks in a casserole or pyrex dish. Top with a few pats of real butter and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Slip it in the oven and broil for about 8-10 minutes. Out of this world!
- Peas are often a forgotten vegetable for us adults, but there is something sublime about garden fresh peas. But even without the garden fresh option, frozen peas are quite sweet and delicious.
- Ricotta and Pea Pasta I like to sautee my peas in olive oil and garlic until they become soft. Then I smoosh them (oh yes, that’s the official culinary term to use) with a fork until about half are broken open. Then I add some fresh or dried basil, a sprinkle of sea salt and about a 1/2 cup ricotta cheese. After I mix this together, I add cooked pasta (farfalle is nice here). A lovely main dish for lunch or light dinner, or perfect paired with sauteed chicken sausage or grilled chicken.
Salad Greens, Sprouts, and Daikon Radish
- Get sprouts, salad greens and daikon radish in whenever you can in the Spring. They are some of the best foods for cleansing and releasing the fat-soluble toxins stored from winter.
- Sprouts — I can snack on sprouts straight, but they can be tossed in almost any stir-fry, salad, or sandwich.
- Daikon radish — This is a secret weight loss food. Fantastic for promoting fat burning metabolism. Shred it and add to salads or sandwiches. Has a mildly spicy taste, similar to a traditional radish in taste. Try this radish salad for a tasty side dish.
- Spinach Pesto This is a favorite in my home. Put about half a package of cream cheese in a mixing bowl (if you have a hand-held blender stick) or in a food processor. Add about 6 cups of fresh baby spinach. Start to blend. If you need to add a teaspoon of water at a time just to get the mixture going, it should be thick, so try not to add too much water. Once its going, add parsley, a pinch of sea salt, some black pepper and about 4 garlic cloves. The mixture should be thick and creamy. Toss with whole wheat pasta to thoroughly cover it all. Top with pine nuts and tomatoes. Yum!
Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts
- Roasted Veggies My very favorite way to prepare these foods is by roasting them. When they are roasted they release a sweet taste that transforms their flavor. I cut the cauliflower in pieces and trim the bottom of the Brussels sprouts. Put them in a large glass roasting dish. Toss with olive oil and a generous amount of sea salt. Pop it in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes or until they begin to brown. Served hot or cold, these come out with a subtle sweet/salt taste that is lovely.
Corn and Beans
- These two staples in my kitchen. Check out this versatile dish, my 3-for-1 Bean and Corn Salad dishes.
Barley, Quinoa, Millet
- These are three powerhouse grains that are fantastic to begin moving into a Spring diet. They are a nice alternative to the heavier protein foods of winter.
- Quinoa (keen-wa) is a South American grain that has all the essential amino acids in its protein makeup…the only grain that has this, which means it provides a complete protein in itself (which is rare for vegetarian sources of protein). I’ll be posting recipies that spotlight these grains in the coming weeks.
- For now, try to add barley in your soups, or cook quinoa or millet in place of rice. They cook the same way as rice, (remember to use Kombu!) but check the label to adjust the water to grain ratio and cooking times.
So this should get us started! Remember change that sticks is change that happens slowly. If some of these foods are new to your menu, take one at a time and explore it. Try it a few different ways and get used to it, then move to another.
What are some of your favorite Spring foods, traditions or projects?
Thanks so much for this post. My body begins to crave a change in foods this time of year. I have certain meals that we only eat in warmer weather (a lot of grill-based meals) that I can’t wait to pull out. You introduced some new ideas to me here that I’m excited to try. 🙂
I love lemon squeezed into my soups! I think it’s a Mexican thing…they usually add a dab of cream, too. Great ideas for spring foods, I think I’ll try some of these. I’ve noticed that my whole family hasn’t been as interested in eating now that it’s getting warmer here (it’s been up into the 80s this last week!). And it’s time to do a major shopping, so this will be good to keep in mind.
There’s somewhat of a delay, btw, in getting your posts by email. That’s why I sometimes don’t comment right away…
@Nicki: Isn’t it great to “hear” your body wanting the changes that are natural in the shifting season?! It’s always amazing to me how wise my body actually is 🙂
@Becky: I notice that about the emails too, not sure why that’s the case … But I love the idea that you can go shopping often for meals through the week– keeps things fresh and seasonal, plus I’m sure you waste much less in the process.
Hey Lisa, I can’t wait to get started on this! I’ve cleared out Sunday to go through my pantry. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I agree with you on moving to lighter foods for spring and summer. I love my stews and roasts but I think I love salads and fresh fruits and veg more while sitting out on the deck taking in the fresh air 🙂 I’m also really interested in the rice alternatives you mention here. Have to say I’ve never heard of Quinoa…if I can find it I’ll give it a try! Thanks.
I feel like I am learning to cook all over again! Even though I am not a fan of friend foods I have a lot of new habits and recipes to learn. There is a recipe on allrecipes.com- black beans and quinoa- that I really enjoyed. Can’t wait to see what you bring to the table. =)
Thanks Sherri and Lynnette– I’m excited to share new grains and recipies- it feels so good to be able to have more go-to staples in your menu when you begin to explore outside rice and pasta (not knocking rice and pasta, though– I still love them both!)
I love this post. Great information!
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